Beijing launches 'unprecedented' maneuvers around Taiwan

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P&eacute ;kin launches “unprecedented” maneuvers around Taiwan

Chinese helicopters near Pintgan Island, one of the closest points to Taiwan

China fired missiles and deployed fighter jets and ships in the waters around Taiwan on Thursday, the first day of unprecedented scale military exercises around the island to protest the visit of Nancy Pelosi in Taipei.

Despite firm warnings from Beijing, which considers Taiwan as one of its provinces, the speaker of the American House of Representatives, very critical of China, stayed on the island Tuesday and Wednesday.

The move by Ms. Pelosi, the highest elected US official to visit Taipei in 25 years, is seen by Beijing as a provocation and reneging on US promises to China.

< p class="e-p">In response, the Chinese military has launched a series of military exercises in six sea areas around Taiwan, on busy trade routes, some of which are just 20 kilometers from the coast Taiwanese.

The maneuvers included firing conventional missiles at waters off the east coast of Taiwan, said Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Chinese military.

All missiles hit their target with precision, testing precision strike and area denial capabilities, he said in a statement.

Condemning irrational actions that undermine regional peace, Taiwan's Defense Ministry confirmed that the Chinese military fired 11 Dongfeng-type ballistic missiles into waters north, south and east of Taiwan. .

He did not specify whether or not they had flown over the island.

In Pingtan , a Chinese island located near the ongoing maneuvers, AFP journalists saw several projectiles flying into the sky after detonations on Thursday afternoon, leaving plumes of white smoke behind. p>

At the location in mainland China that is closest to Taiwan, reporters also spotted five military helicopters flying low near a seaside tourist spot.

Chinese military exercises are due to end on Sunday at noon.

According to the Chinese newspaper Global Times, which quotes military analysts, these maneuvers are on an unprecedented scale as missiles will fly over Taiwan for the first time.

If the Taiwanese forces voluntarily come into contact [with the Chinese army] and come to fire a shot, [the Chinese army] will retaliate vigorously and it will be up to the Taiwanese side to take responsibility. all consequences, an unnamed military source in the Chinese military told AFP.

Island authorities have condemned the drills soldiers, an irrational act aimed at defying the international order, according to them.

For Beijing, these maneuvers – along with other, more limited ones undertaken in recent days – are a necessary and legitimate measure after Ms. Pelosi's visit.

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Nancy Pelosi and Tsai Ing-wen during the visit of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

In the face of malicious provocations that so flagrantly infringe on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, our countermeasures are justified, said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

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Exercises aim to simulate a blockade of the island and include the assault of targets at sea, the striking of targets on the ground and the control of airspace , according to the official New China agency.

Major Taiwanese government websites were temporarily inaccessible during Nancy Pelosi's visit, Taiwan authorities say, blaming it on cyberattacks linked to China and Russia.

If the hypothesis of an invasion of Taiwan, populated by 23 million inhabitants, remains unlikely, it has increased since the election, in 2016, of current President Tsai Ing-wen.

Coming from an independence party, Ms. Tsai refuses, unlike the previous government, to recognize that the island and the mainland are part of the same China.

Visits by foreign leaders and parliamentarians have also increased in recent years, provoking the ire of Beijing.

In response, President Xi Jinping's China, which wants to be intractable on sovereignty issues, is seeking to diplomatically isolate Taiwan and is exerting increasing military pressure on the island.

China, however, has no desire for the current situation to escalate, experts believe.

An accidental war sparked by an incident is the last thing Xi Jinping wants before Congress Communist Party of China (CCP), said Titus Chen, a political science professor at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.

Amanda Hsiao, China analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank, notes, however, that these drills represent a marked escalation from the norm of Chinese military activity around Taiwan and the last Taiwan Straits crisis in 1995-96.

By doing so, Beijing indicates that it rejects any sovereignty of the Taiwanese authorities over the island, she underlines.

European Union (EU) Foreign Minister Josep Borrell condemned China's aggressive military maneuvers, saying there was no justification to use China's visit to Taiwan as a pretext. Nancy Pelosi.

For their part, the Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) wrote in a joint statement: The world is in urgent need of wisdom and a sense of responsibility from all heads of state to uphold multilateralism […] and peaceful coexistence.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, called for calm in the face of escalating tensions between the United States, Taiwan and China, while blaming Beijing for the current standoff.

We call on China to de-escalate [the situation], because we believe that there may be risks not only of aggravation of tensions, but also of destabilization of the region, she said.

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